Things to do in Oamaru

December 30, 2014

A few years ago friends came to stay a couple of nights on their way to Wanaka.

They ended up forgoing the trip to Central Otago in favour of staying longer with us.

It was one of those golden summers when days at the river a few kilometres from home were far more attractive than coping with holidaying hordes in more populous spots.

Not every summer is like that but the last few days have been good for holiday makers. We’ve had enough heat to enjoy the beaches or rivers but not too much to make other attractions too much of an effort.

When our friends visited, nearly three decades ago, Oamaru wasn’t regarded as a holiday destination.

That’s changed.

Lonely Planet, which had just two pages on the town five years ago now gives it nine and has dubbed Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand.

An Explore Waitaki App will help you discover the district’s charms, find what’s where and how to get there.

I have yet to download it so don’t know if it will take you to places the locals go to cool off when the weather cooperates.

Rivers change and Gemmels Crossing where I spent many summer days as a child is no longer so good for swimming.

But there are still good swimming holes further up the Kakanui River near Clifton Falls and the Waitaki River also has some great picnic and swimming spots.

For those who prefer beaches, there’s Campbells Bay, All Day Bay and Moeraki.

Oamaru and the Waitaki District  hinterland have lots of other attractions.

Oamaru Today is very good at highlighting things to see and do and I’m planning to write posts about the area over the next few days.

You’re welcome to add your own ideas for holiday makers in North Otago of further afield.

 

 

 


Trickle down works with irrigation

December 22, 2014

The trickle down theory has been discredited in economics but it works with irrigation and North Otago Irrigation Company’s decision to extend its scheme will provide a boost for the whole region:

The decision by the North Otago Irrigation Company to expand its scheme is a big Christmas present for the region. David Bruce looks at what it means.

It’s a pun, but the trickle-down from new irrigation in North Otago is evident in all sectors of the community.

And it’s the old story – when farmers are doing well, so is North Otago. When they shut their chequebooks, all North Otago suffers.

The figures for the first stage of the North Otago irrigation scheme, opened in 2006, tell the story, and here comes the second stage.

Our farm and the two immediate neighbours had four houses on them before the first stage of NOIC’s scheme brought water to our valley, now there are 14.

That has been repeated all over the district and the people living in the new houses have dropped the average age by decades.

The company has committed to a second stage which will spread the benefits further.

An economic benefit study in 2010 of stage 1 said it was ”the single most significant economic development” project in the Waitaki district in recent years.

Until then, and before dairy prices boomed, then collapsed, it had created 76 jobs on farms that now earn $44 million a year more than before. Since then, on-farm development has continued.

More people now live in the irrigated area, many of them young families, which had brought community and social benefits such as increased school rolls.

It also contributed to population growth in the district.

Business people in Oamaru can point to very tangible gains through the whole of the economy, not just from a more stable agricultural sector but new businesses and increases in jobs in existing businesses.

These have resulted in demands for all services, from motorcycles to new houses, and new farm service companies, particularly related to irrigation.

That was echoed by Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago spokesman Simon Berry who was pleased with the decision.

”The benefits will be felt far and wide through the whole community. The knock-on and trickle down (from stage 1) has already been shown to be major,” he said.

In terms of new businesses, the chamber had noticed not only people returning to Oamaru but also coming in to set up new businesses, he said, quoting the Tees St Cafe and Scott’s Brewery as recent examples.

Another example was an Oamaru company which was building dairy sheds but had now expanded in to prefabricated buildings and housing which it was selling, not only in North Otago but other expanding regions.

”There are the irrigation servicing companies who are growing or have moved in to town to support the development.”

All that activity was benefiting sub-contractors such as painter and plumbers.

”Anyone who tries to get a tradie will know that.”

That was all a direct result of irrigation, Mr Berry said. . .

The mood in North Otago has been increasingly positive since irrigation first came, even when the weather’s dry and drought’s threatening as it is now, in spite of some rain at the weekend.

Nothing beats water from the sky, but there’s now enough critical mass under irrigation to drought-proof the area, giving farmers on dryland options to sell stock and/or buy supplements or grazing.

The growing optimism has been helped by growth in tourism too.

The little blue penguins, Oamaru’s beautiful old (by New Zealand standards) buildings and more recently steam punk and the Alps to Ocean cycle way have brought more people to the area, providing opportunities for artists, artisans, hospitality and other businesses which service and supply visitors.

The latest Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand crowned Oamaru the coolest town in the country.

The expanded irrigation scheme will provide another boost for the area as money spent by farmers trickles through the rest of the community and into the wider economy.

 

 

 


Capitalising on cool

October 20, 2014

Lonely Planet has crowned Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand:

Nothing moves very fast in Oamaru. Tourists saunter, locals linger and penguins waddle. Even oft-celebrated heritage modes of transport – penny farthings and steam trains – reflect an unhurried pace. Most travellers come here for the penguins, but hang around and you’ll sense the wellspring of eccentricity bubbling under the surface. Put simply, this is New Zealand’s coolest town.

“Down by the water, a neighbourhood of once-neglected Victorian buildings now swarms with odd balls, antiquarians and bohemians of all stripes, who run off beat galleries, fascinating shops, hip venues and even an ‘urban winery’ most visible are the Steampunks.”

Lonely Planet is the bible of many tourists, especially the FITs – free, independent travelers.

An endorsement like this is promotion that money couldn’t buy and it is now up to the town and wider Waitaki District to capitalize on the opportunity it presents.


Chch needs southern support

January 11, 2012

Quote of the day:

“It’s distressing enough for people in Christchurch to have to go through the difficulties that the earthquake events continue to present, without actually scaring them completely by suggesting that they’re going to have to relocate to Dunedin.”

It comes from Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee in response to Dunedin City Councillor Lee Vandervis who said that rather than rebuilding Christchurch it should be relocated to Dunedin.

Like most who were students at Otago I have a soft spot for Dunedin but the idea of relocating Christchurch there is ludicrous.

Some quake refugees have moved south but that’s very different from relocating the city infrastructure like the port and other services as Cr Vandervis is suggesting.

Many refugees have moved north or emigrated and if the city wasn’t rebuilt it’s more likely that people and businesses would choose those options over Dunedin.

Fortunately, most Christchurch people want to stay in or near the city which is their home and they have the backing to do so from central and local government which is committed to the rebuild and recovery.

Dunedin, and the rest of the South Island should be co-operating with and supporting that not trying to compete with the city.

Without a strong, vibrant Christchurch the whole of the south will suffer and the growing population imbalance between North and South Islands will get even bigger.

UPDATE: Just spotted a link on Facebook to Lonely Planet’s post-quake guide to Christchurch :

After two weeks on-the-ground research in Christchurch recently– Lonely Planet’s third visit since the February 2011 earthquake – we’re confident the city is one of New Zealand’s bravest and most resilient communities.

Our latest visit was unlike any other Lonely Planet research gig, with virtually all of the bars, cafes and restaurants recommended in our 2010 New Zealand guidebook no longer open. But amid the occasional uncertainty of aftershocks, Christchurch is re-emerging as one of NZ’s most exciting cities.

If you’re heading to the South Island of New Zealand, definitely spend a few days in the city. There’s still plenty to do, and you’ll be supporting the new businesses inspiring Christchurch’s renaissance. Note that there is considerable demand for Christchurch accommodation, and booking ahead is strongly recommended.

Lonely Planet sees what Cr Vandervis cannot – the city is still open for business and we should be supporting it.


Desperate sign of desperation

May 28, 2011

It’s not my land and it’s not my city so the outcry over the plan to erect a Wellywood sign on a hill overlooking our capital passed me by until I realised I would be paying for it, albeit a tiny amount.

I fly in and out of Wellingtona several times a year, using the airport which is going to put up the sign and therefore some portion of the airfare I pay must be paying for this wanton wannabeness.

If you apply the adage  if you can’t be first you must be better to the sign then the airport board which wants to erect it appears to have got it wrong.

Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery but it doesn’t necessarily make the imitator right.

Wellywood was a clever enough word play linking Wellington with Hollywood, but turning it into a sign which imitates the one which overlooks the USA’s film capital isn’t so smart. As  Lonely Planet  says:

Lonely Planet New Zealand commissioning editor Errol Hunt said he was “torn” on the idea of a Wellywood sign, seeing it as partly bold, and partly cringe-worthy.

“On one hand, it’s a bit cheeky, a bit quirky, which does feel right. On the other hand, the tryhard-o-meter is beeping furiously.”

Jim Hopkins says it even better:

It is, after all, simply evidence, writ large, of how provincial, insecure and derivative we can be.

If you have to try that hard to impress people, you really shouldn’t bother. Better to pull your bottom lip over your top lip and pretend you don’t exist.

The Wellywood sign is just the biggest, dumbest version of all those gormless billboards we see bestrewn along the roadside all over the country, halfway between nowhere and somewhere else. . .

Well, of course it’s tacky, y’ daft ha’porths!

But it’s not tacky enough. It’s limp tacky, wimp tacky.

It should be wacky tacky. If it’s going to be tacky, it’s got to be Oh! tacky. Nothing less will do. . .

Since all such signs and symbols invite derision, get in first. Create one that will transcend silliness and scale the highest heights of kitsch. Then, when people say, “Strewth, that’s awful!” you can reply, with a satisfied grin on your gob, “Thank you.”

That sums it up – the sign is bad, but not bad enough,  a desperate sign of desperation, not that I’m likely to see it.

In spite of many flights to and from Wellington I have  no idea which hill the sign is destined to despoil. I am usually reading, sleeping or,  in the case of Wellington sometimes more than exciting landings, praying, and don’t recall seeing a hillside on any descent or take-off. 

On my most recent trip a couple of days ago all I saw was cloud until just before we touched down and more cloud when we took off again yesterday.

Therefore, in the spirit of the tackiness of the sign and with apologies to Ogden Nash I leave you with:

Deck your grassy hill in signs, the hill is yours my sweeting,

 I’ll not see it flying in, nor when I’m retreating.


Lonely Planet on Kindle

October 22, 2009

The idea of reading books on screen hasn’t appealed to me.

There’s something about the way a book looks and feels and a connection with the printed page which a computer can’t emulate.

But the news that Lonely Planet is going to be available on Kindle might make me change my mind.

We use Lonely Planet guides a lot when we travel but their size and weight means they’re not very portable.

Being able to download  relevant chapters or whole books as you go would be much better than carting heavy tomes around.

One of my travel nightmares is being somewhere with nothing to read. I’ve learned to pack light when it comes to clothes but not with books. Kindle might solve that problem for me too.


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